Vaccine mandates ‘won’t break fourth Covid wave’, says German Health Minister

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has played down speculation that Germany could introduce a general vaccine mandate, saying this would do nothing to tackle the current surge in coronavirus cases.

Jens Spahn at a press conference
Jens Spahn at a press conference on Monday in Berlin. Photo: dpa | Michael Kappeler

A vaccine mandate “would not solve our acute current problem,” Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday morning.

“We wouldn’t break this wave with a mandatory vaccination – the effect would come much too late. [Instead] we need to reduce our contacts and the state needs to act in a united manner,” he said.

The health minister added that he “doesn’t know whether focusing on this debate is right at the present time.”

Several leading politicians, including the state leaders of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in the south of the country, have called for compulsory vaccines for the entire population in recent days, as an unexpectedly severe fourth wave of infections has swept across the country.

Winfried Kretschmann, premier of Baden-Württemberg, told broadcaster ARD that “one must not forget – the fact that many people are not getting vaccinated means that we have to infringe upon the civil rights of others.”

Spahn said that he had concerns about the balance that needs to be struck between the powers of the state and the rights of individuals.

“It’s a question of freedom and responsibility,” he said, adding that one also needed to consider how such mandates would be enforced.

The Social Democrats, who are likely to lead the next government, have also distanced themselves from calls for general vaccine mandates, with one senior figure describing them as “unnecessary.”

7-day incidence close to 400

The latest numbers published by the Robert Koch Institute show that the 7-day incidence of infections rose to 399.8 cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday morning.

Some 45,000 new cases were reported to the federal disease agency for the past 24 hours, up from 32,000 a week ago.

In the past 24 hours, 309 people died after contracting Covid, compared 265 Covid-related deaths a week ago. The weekly hospitalisation rate – which has now become a crucial driver of Covid policy and measures – stood a 5.28 on Monday. 

With hospitalisation incidences of three, six and nine, regions around Germany are expected to bring in tough new curbs to combat rising infections, including blanket 2G and 2G-plus. 

SEE ALSO: Fact Check – Could Germany legally introduce compulsory vaccination?

Member comments

  1. I simply cannot understand how someone with no expertise in medicine can be the country’s Health Minister.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now